ACT News

Government accepts critical audit report on bushfire preparedness

The ACT government has accepted all recommendations of a 2013 auditor-general report that found numerous shortcomings in the territory's preparedness for bushfires.

The government's response, tabled in the legislative assembly on Tuesday, comes after firefighters and residents expressed fears authorities had grown complacent and would be unprepared in the event of another blaze.

A helicopter water bombs a pine plantation near the Brindabellas during the 2003 Canberra bushfires.
A helicopter water bombs a pine plantation near the Brindabellas during the 2003 Canberra bushfires.  Photo: Nick Moir

The 2013 report found the ACT's small community of rural landholders were unclear on what they were expected to do to prepare for the risk of bushfire, including whether they were responsible for preparing bushfire operational plans.

The report also found only 19 per cent of nearly 500 Rural Fire Service volunteers had passed a fitness test, with concerns raised about equipment readiness, including the checking of RFS vehicles.

Police and Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell said all 35 recommendations were now embedded in the territory's strategic bushfire management plan.

"Since that Auditor-General's report in 2013, significant advancements have been made to ensure that the ACT is well prepared to meet the challenges posed by bushfire now and into the future," he said.

"The government and our emergency services are vigilant in their preparations and planning to combat bushfires and keep our community safe."

Mr Corbell said the government and emergency services were continuing to alert the community to the need to prepare for bushfires. A doorknocking campaign reached 1249 homes in high-risk areas.

Not everyone has been satisfied with the government's preparation. Duffy's Ric Hingee, who lost his house in the firestorm, said authorities had not addressed risk factors for homes on the urban fringe including adequate buffer zones and guaranteed water and electricity supply in case of a blaze

Tharwa firefighter Val Jeffery has also criticised what he describes as the ACT government's "blind, irresponsible management" of bushfires in the territory and believed it was reflective of a concerning nationwide trend.